As you know by now Lords of the Drinks supports everyone who has their right to drink violated. 80 years since the end of the prohibition in the United States it seems that all over the world we are moving backwards again. Politicians think they can decide what’s best for the people. Instead of insuring good health care, education and infrastructure they put huge taxes on alcohol. We’ve seen it in Scandinavia, also Turkey’s semi-dictator Erdogan is pushing through more and more anti-alcohol laws and even the once so liberal Holland joins this trend. But in some countries it’s even worse. Like Malaysia, through Facebook we met a group of people that resists the extreme anti-alcohol laws in this South East Asian country. Through this post we want to show our support to them.
These Malaysian freedom fighters are united under the name Alcon, which is short for Alcohol Consumer-Rights Group Malaysia. In their manifesto they present themselves as “an independent entity formed to protect the interests of alcohol consumers in Malaysia as legitimate stakeholders in a multi-billion dollar industry. Alcon will be the voice of these consumers when dealing with the government, media, outlets and other relevant parties.”
Since not everyone might be up to date about the situation in Malaysia, let us paint you the picture. Even though only a small majority of the whole population (60%) is Muslim the country still has Sharia law. And even though we established in an earlier post that Muhammad himself drunk alcohol, it is usually not allowed to drink any under Muslim rule. In Malaysia it’s banned in the states Kelantan and Terengganu and everywhere else it’s heavily taxed. Sharia law in Malaysia even goes as far as that no Muslim can drink and nobody may sell alcohol to Muslims. Punishments for breaking these laws are severe and sometimes even physical.
But also for non-Muslims the alcohol policy sucks big time. Malaysia is one of the countries with the highest prices for alcoholic drinks in the world. According to Alcon their country ranks 2nd on the world list behind Norway. But since the average Malaysian makes less than 8.000 euro’s a year, where in Norway this is just over 39.000 euro’s… Well, you do the math. Alcohol, even in moderate amounts, is simply way too expensive for most Malaysians. Alcon: “Currently, the high prices consumers face causes them to burn holes in their pockets, even for casual and irregular drinkers.”
Even with the strict Sharia law and crazy taxes the selling of alcohol is still booming business in Malaysia. Billions are being spent, also thanks to tourism. But for how long? Many tourists complain about the high prices and there are plenty of alternatives for a relaxing holiday in the area. Like Indonesia for example. The same goes for foreign investors looking to invest in microbreweries. Because of the license restrictions they chose to invest in neigbouring countries like Indonesia, Singapore or Thailand.
And for all the people pointing at the health risks of alcohol, nowadays the situation is actually far worse. Since poor Malaysians are forced to drink cheap and dangerous drinks. Since many local producers don’t pay any attention to safety standards these ‘backyard brews’ and compounded hard liquors take many victims. Not to mention the drugs that people use as a substitude for alcohol. Also organised crime is flourishing, just like in the United States during the prohibition.
So when these high prices cause more victims than they ‘save’ lives. When high taxes hurt the economy rather than give the nation a financial boost. And when many people are just unhappy because they get treated like a bunch of toddlers by their own government. Then what’s the point of maintaining these stupid laws? Our sympathy and support are with Alcon. Don’t give up the fight lads, cheers to a better Malaysia!